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Pogba set to torment Gunners once again

Paul Pogba has three goals and three assists in what seems like United's second home.
Paul Pogba has three goals and three assists in what seems like United's second home.PHOTO: AFP

He thrives in London, where team have 100% record in 2019 and he has 3 goals and 3 assists

Manchester United may have won in Paris without their most famous Parisian, but capital occasions seem to bring the best out of their most expensive player.

They have a 100 per cent record in London in 2019. Paul Pogba has three goals and three assists in what seems like United's second home.

Their most famous player returns after suspension and a famous result, ready to take his place in the makeshift midfield of rookies and a supposed misfit, in Fred.

Yet the same may have been said of Pogba three months ago. Confined to a bit-part role at the end of Jose Mourinho's reign, he is now an indictment of the sacked Portuguese.

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he has looked a World Cup winner and an £89 million (S$156 million) player. He has been ubiquitous, shedding his status as an enigma to deliver consistency and productivity.

Even while missing a penalty and picking up a red card, he has scored nine times and registered seven assists. Pogba has provided 16 goals in 15 games.

More, really. When United won at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup in January, Anthony Martial completed the scoring when Petr Cech had parried Pogba's shot.

The Frenchman had intercepted in his own half and powered forward: it showcased the verticality and directness that suits Pogba, but also the counter-attacking game plan United's last two managers have used in 3-1 wins at Arsenal.

They have had wildly different endings for Pogba. The 25-year-old also set up United's third goal, scored by Jesse Lingard, during an influential display in 2017 but was then sent off for a studs-up challenge on Hector Bellerin.

He has hugged the spotlight in home games against the Gunners, too: last season, he opened the scoring in Arsene Wenger's final encounter with United.

In November, a 15-minute cameo in a 2-2 draw proved his final league appearance under Mourinho; he was sent on for Marouane Fellaini and left unused in the Portuguese's final two domestic fixtures.

"I was in the shadows," Pogba said in January. His relationship with Mourinho broke down.

In contrast, Solskjaer has embraced his exuberance and encouraged a larger-than-life character.

In August, when few thought he could become United manager, Solskjaer had said he would build a team around Pogba. Given the opportunity, he has been true to his word.

He has given him defensive cover, finding his best role either in a trio or on the left of a diamond, but allowed him to surge forward.

He has been allowed to try the audacious. He is having more shots - 48 during Solskjaer's reign - but has actually showed positional discipline and greater productivity while looking liberated.

The unlikely lads showed in Paris that Pogba certainly isn't a one-man midfield, but a talisman still feels much more than just one man.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline 'Pogba set to torment Gunners once again'. Print Edition | Subscribe